EDITOR: Raley’s is my kind of store.
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My husband and I prefer to shop there because Raley’s thinks like a customer, meaning: Raley’s values us. My first real job was working for a family owned grocery chain, Big Bear, working part time as I was also going to college.
During the summers, the Brown family invited the employees to their Big Bear Farm for our company picnic; we were valued and in return we valued our customers. We were a non-union store and our only competition was Kroger’s, who was union. I made a whopping $5 an hour, which was pretty good wage back in 1974.
We happened to shop at Raley’s on the first day of the strike. I was shaken, dismayed and furious at the heckling and the harassment directed at customers coming into the store. I recognized several of the striking Raley’s employees and as if a switch turned on, witnessing these individuals being so unkind, directing their pent-up frustration, telling Raley’s customers to shop elsewhere. As in a previous letter, I can’t fathom as to the point of directing their misgivings at the customers, as if the customer was going to resolve the strike, when in fact, when you frighten a customer as I had briefly witnessed, they may never come back.
So, it was my turn to make it from my car, pass the strikers and into Raley’s to shop. My husband being the Marine, we of course talk about a strategy, how to get from our car, pass the chanting strikers, into the store: mission accomplished.
My husband as well as many others gave their lives so we can have the freedoms we all enjoy today, especially the right to strike. We have so much to be grateful for, even if it’s not something we agree with, even if it has a negative impact, those are rights that are ours to do what we may.
As I braced myself, my head up, my friendly outgoing smile, I walked into the store just liked I had done many times before. But even as prepared as I was, I was frowning inside myself because of the heckling I received. Although milder in comparison, because I chose to look directly at them and I did so compassionately.
I spoke to them, so everyone would hear: “I chose to shop at Raley’s because if I do not walk in to spend my money at your store, those who are working inside the store and you all out here striking may not have jobs. Customers like me will not have a choice when it comes to shop at an excellent quality family owned grocery store, if they go out of business.”
In closing, as a customer of course I am very concerned as to fairness, but as a customer this is not my fight, and it’s not ethical to harass customers. You can tell us, you can show as to how you are resolving your issue, and just remember, your union representatives are still getting paid as you are not. If Raley’s does not have commitment from its employees, grocery stores like Raley’s will likely disappear as fierce, bigger competition comes to town with non-union stores.
A final word to Raley’s: you need to be more on the cutting edge offering a uniqueness that tells a customer why they want to shop in your family owned grocery stores. I want to spend my money here at your store and not have to drive down the hill to shop.
One more thing, my husband and I needed to stop in the store this last Sunday, Veterans Day, and it was shameful to see a striking employee walk right in front of a customer, blocking their entrance into the store.